The Smiley Middle School AmeriCorps members had the privilege of providing a new after-school Art Club last October, which is a wonderful artistic outlet for the students. This past December, the Art Club worked on a project to create hundreds of holiday cards. As a former New Jersey resident, I presented the idea of sending the cards to victims of Hurricane Sandy. We discussed the devastation of the storm with the students and there were questions about how bad the damage had been, who was affected, and what students in Denver could do to help the families affected. I was able to show photographs from news articles that depicted the damage, as well as my own photos that were taken in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The students were amazed at what one storm could destroy, which we believe helped them relate to the children who would soon receive their cards.
Lavallette Elementary School in Lavallette, NJ was greatly affected by the storm. The barrier island where the school is located was inaccessible to residents for months following the storm, which landed on October 29th, 2012. About 165 students and over 20 staff members were affected. Following the storm, these students and staff were forced to hold classes at a church outside their town. Because of this relocation, it seemed that the school could use come extra holiday cheer; the students at Smiley were happy to provide that.
With such a large amount of cards to be made, Art Club decided to recruit other students to help. Many students gave up part of their lunch to make cards. John Amesse Elementary and Grant Beacon Middle School also recruited students to help make holiday cards. In the end, the collaboration allowed us to send 200 holiday cards to Lavallette, New Jersey. According to one teacher, the students loved the cards and said, “Yes, we got the beautiful cards and passed them out to all grades in our school! I want to let you know how much we enjoyed them. Thanks again and Happy New Year!”
– Julia Finlayson